iPhone Life magazine

Review: He-Man: The Most Powerful Game In The Universe by Chillingo

Many of you are probably too young for this, and those that are my age probably had better sense than me, but the phrase “I have the power” was pretty much a regular part of my after school routine in grade school.  It was part of the battle cry that transformed mild mannered Prince Adam into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.  If you think it sounds just a bit corny, try watching the show some time.  He-Man makes The Brady Bunch look like intense drama.  Anyway, for better or worse – depending on your viewpoint – all the cheese that made the show what it was seems to have ended up in the game.  And of course you have many of the main characters and locations from Eternia.  Just don’t expect anything revolutionary game play wise.

Hey, You're Bigger Than Me
 

So the burning question on someone’s mind is “can Skeletor beat He-Man once and for all?”  Apparently there’s an app for that, or at least that’s what the cheap attempt at a plot would have you believe.  Your job is to travel through 9 different areas of Eternia and basically prove to Skeletor once again that he’s nothing more than a bag of bones with a cool scepter.  You’ll have to defeat hordes of Skeletor’s minions along with some of his most faithful sidekicks like Beastman and Merman.  Along the way you’ll get help from such trusted friends as Man-At-Arms and Orco, though Battle Cat is conspicuously missing.  I also don’t see any sign of Teela or Evilyn, but I can’t really say the designers were sexist because you do get to play She-ra in a recently added update (complete with pink robots and everything???)

Along the way you’ll deal with the typical list of platform style obstacles like boxes to destroy, rampant fireballs and rising levels of liquids that are never good for your health.  There will also be gems and lore to collect.  Gems are used to buy both permanent upgrades and single use items, and lore unlocks “extras” which are basically tidbits about the He-Man universe that you can look at when you’re not playing the game.  They also help boost your overall star rating when you complete a level.  Each area has several levels, and while they aren’t overly long, several of them seem rather challenging.  Of course that could be because of the controls.

Packaging Artwork
 

To move He-Man left and right you use the left half of the screen.  To attack and do everything else you use the right hand of the screen.  This includes swipes to jump and execute any of your special moves.  Now maybe it’s just me, but that’s not a very precise system for a game where it would be nice to have some precision.  While you’re busy trying to figure out if you’ve executed a jump or a special maneuver the bad guys are happily pounding away on you.  I know the lack of physical buttons can make the whole control thing a bit more challenging, but this honestly seems to be one of the most difficult schemes I’ve run across in a long time.

The graphics do a good job of portraying the cartoon origins of the series, though thankfully the artwork looks more like modern fare than the stuff from the 80s.  The backgrounds are nicely detailed and for the most part the characters look like what one might expect.  He-Man and Man-At-Arms seem a bit on the “super-deformed” side, though not nearly as exaggerated as the term implies.  She-ra, on the other hand, looks like she got an injection from the Joker’s smilex formula.  The sound effects are about what you’d expect from this sort of game, and sadly the characters have no voiceovers.  The music actually feels like it came from a cartoon soundtrack, and the tune that’s played during the map screen almost sounds like it was recorded off of a TV broadcast.

She-Ra Has The Power Too

If you’re a fan of the show (or were at one point), I think there’s a lot to like here.  If you’re not familiar with the property, I’m not sure how much the setting will appeal to you.  Content wise the game provides a nice solid platformer that should sit well with anyone that enjoys the genre.  For me the deal breaker is the control scheme.  It’s not so much that it would prevent me from playing the game, but it goes a long way towards making me want to recommend other platform games instead.

Overall Score: 6/10
App Store Link

This game was reviewed on an iPad 2 running iOS 6.0.1.

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.